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Question and Answer

Why would Isaiah say that our good deeds and our righteous conduct are like filthy rags (Isa. 64:6)? Aren’t they examples of what we ought to be doing?

We have to understand our calling to good deeds in the proper context. The Isaiah passage reminds us that all the good things we could ever do will never be good enough to save any of us. They cannot accomplish our salvation or put us in a right relationship with God. We are sinners, and it is only God’s wonderful grace that can make us acceptable to Him.

The letter to the Ephesians puts it this way: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (2:8–10). God’s grace saves us, and then we have His power to live in a way that brings Him glory.

When sinners try to win God’s favor by doing nice things, they assume they don’t need God’s provision. Many people think that somehow they can win His favor by impressing Him with their good works. This is impossible. If we refuse to accept His redemption through Christ, we are rejecting God’s gift of salvation. Only by accepting the truth that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and was raised from the dead to defeat the power of sin and death can we be in a relationship with God.

I grew up in a religious tradition that referred to and honored saints. What does the Bible say about saints?

phesians 1:1 says that if you are a true believer, then you and every other believer are saints, translated as “holy people” in the niv. Saints is just another term for born-again Christians. In popular language saints is used to describe “super-spiritual” people or those with extraordinary qualities such as patience. In some religious traditions, saints are expected to have performed miracles or had other supernatural qualities recognized by the church. But according to Scripture, all those who trust in Jesus Christ for their salvation are in fact saints of God.

It’s important to note that saint doesn’t mean “sinless.” All saints are sinners saved by the grace of God and transformed daily to the image of Christ as we seek to obey and live by His Word. And we look forward to being glorified into His presence after our death, when, as the Bible says, we shall be like Him (1 John 3:2).

Is there a biblical position about immigration?

In the Old Testament, Israel was instructed in Leviticus to treat the alien and strangers among them as natives, and to love them as themselves, since they were once foreigners in the land of Egypt (Ex. 22:21; 23:9). Indeed, the Lord instructed them: “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God” (Lev. 19:34).

We can conclude from the instructions in the New Testament that we are to treat immigrants with compassion. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt. 5:43–44; Mark 12:31). And Jesus defines our neighbor not as someone who is like us but as someone who is unlike us (Luke 10:25–37). We are also instructed to care for vulnerable people in society such as widows and orphans (James 1:27).

Scripture doesn’t prescribe specific public policies, but it does instruct believers in how they should live out their faith in God in relationship to other people. Immigrants are no exception. Historically, Christians have led the way in trying to support refugees, provide educational opportunities, and advocate for just laws and treatment.

Why did God allow evil in the world? Why didn’t He create a universe where everything was good?

After each day of creation, God declared that what He created is good. But God didn’t create good. It is God Himself who is Good and Righteous. And God is eternal, existing from before creation. God Himself is the standard.

It is also clear that God didn’t create evil; all of His creation is declared to be good (Gen. 1:9, 12). Evil happens when created beings go against what God has made known as His will. Critics have suggested that it is unfair for God to create an imperfect world and then judge humanity for making wrong choices. But the Lord created men and women in His image, with creativity and choice, not as robots or automatons. Evil happens when God’s created beings—whether angels led by Lucifer or Adam and Eve—rebel against God or disobey God’s clear instruction (Gen. 3:6).

Each believer must choose to make God the center of his or her life and renounce the pull of evil and sin by relying on the power of the Holy Spirit. We must accept Christ, the Son of God, to be the administrator of our life. In this way, our lives are a foretaste of God’s final defeat of sin and evil (Rev. 20:14).

BY Mike Kellogg

Mike Kellogg worked with Moody Radio for more than 40 years, beginning in 1972. For many years he was the reader on Continued Story and began hosting Music Thru the Night in 1982. He also read the Today in the Word devotional for Moody Radio for many years. In July 2014, Mike retired from full-time radio. He is a graduate of Cedarville University, and has served as adjunct faculty in English and Speech Communications at Moody Bible Institute. He is married to Nancy, and they have 6 children and 16 grandchildren.

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